Easter shows plenty of promise
Easter Day is primed for a rise in class after showing off his credentials in the Playboy Club London Novices' Hurdle at Ascot.
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The soft Berkshire turf was not for the faint-hearted and Paul Nicholls' runner was being asked to move on from his debut over timber, when he won a minor event at Fontwell a month ago.
Daryl Jacob found himself in a duel with Tony McCoy and Dursey Sound but the 3-1 favourite went away on the run-in and scored by four lengths.
"He's shown a real improvement from his first run over hurdles to his second," said Nicholls' assistant, Dan Skelton.
"Obviously we're still sorting out our novices but at the moment he'd look the most likely of ours to go for the Challow (Hurdle, Newbury, December 29)."
Sky Bet and Ladbrokes offer him at 20-1 for the Neptune Investment Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Boylesports introducing the gelding at 16-1.
Nick Scholfield is riding with great assurance at the moment and pulled off a fine piece of work in the BAM Construct UK Novices' Handicap Chase.
The jockey held the lightly-raced 10-year-old Lord Tomnoddy back for as long as possible behind Jacob and the enthusiastic Tigre d'Aron, but his task was made a little more difficult when the second-last was bypassed due to Jacks Grey taking a chunk out of it on the previous circuit.
Despite being jammed up the inner, Scholfield pushed Lord Tomnoddy (8-1) four lengths clear of Emperor's Choice.
He was continuing the good run of trainer Kim Bailey who said: "He loves soft ground and will stay all day."
Scholfield said: "It wasn't that tight round the second-last and it was just a question of who stays best on that ground."
Trainer Tom Symonds and conditional jockey Ben Poste secured their first prestigious success together in the Movember Mares' Handicap Hurdle.
Brendan Powell and Romance Dance controlled the two miles and six furlongs slog until just about the final flight, when she was swamped by first Florafern and then 33-1 shot Tweedledrum, who won by a length.
Symonds, who used to look after Long Run when Nicky Henderson's assistant, said: "I've never been able to figure her out - I call her Rubik's Cube.
"She was tailed off as my first ever runner but she ran really well at Exeter and went up in the handicap, so then she struggled.
"I only came here for a day out with the owners but I'm thrilled for Ben, who rides out for me every day. I've just put in a new gallop, so hopefully it's onwards and upwards."
William's Wishes (7-1) has been a similar enigma to Evan Williams but overcame a 664-day absence by beating the smart Champion Court by two lengths in the £50,000 Carey Group Handicap Chase.
"I could never find what was really wrong with him - he was wrong behind - and I gave him the time off," said Williams.
"But his work has been abysmal and I pretty much gave up and ran him."
Fergal O'Brien had his first Ascot winner when Fiddlers Bid (6-1) ran away with the Josie Reddington Foundation bumper.
"He's done everything we've wanted and will go hurdling over Christmas," said O'Brien.